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Book Review: The Art & Making of Arthur Christmas, Edited by Linda Sunshine

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The computer-animated Arthur Christmas is the first joint venture between Aardman Animations and Sony Pictures Animation and is also the former studio’s first 3-D feature. Written and directed by Sarah Smith, the titular character of this holiday film is Santa’s (Jim Broadbent) younger son Arthur (James McAvoy), whose allergies and phobias have limited him to reading and answering mail from children. When the present of a young English girl named Gwen (Ramona Marquez), who Arthur made a guarantee to, is found not to have left Santa’s facility, Arthur is compelled into service by Grandsanta (Bill Nighy), who has been itching to get back into the field. Not surprisingly, the mission doesn’t go smoothly.

The book is broken down into three sections with looks at the Claus family and their elven employees, the North Pole setting, and locations around the world. There are over 300 pieces of artwork in various stages of completion, such as early concept drawings, CG models, beat boards, and images from the completed film. The art design was led by the team responsible for Tales of Despereaux, production designer Evgeni Tomov and art directors Olivier Adam and Alexi Nechytaylo. The artists from both animation studios are credited throughout and their work is impressive in all stages. Commentary from many of those those involved in the film’s production, from executives to artists, offer very good insight about the film’s creation from different perspectives.

The Art & Making of Arthur Christmas comes in hardcover and is 10.1 x 9.6 inches. Its size is more than adequate, but some of the smaller images and details would have been better served with larger dimensions. The book’s one drawback is its inability to replicate the 3-D work. For those that missed Arthur Christmas in theaters, it is set for a 2012 Christmas release on DVD and Blu-ray.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS